Santiago: Puno should have resigned earlier-A A +A
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
MANILA - Rico Puno should have quitted his post as Interior Undersecretary for Peace and Order immediately after reports on his alleged involvement in the scuttled firearms deal surfaced, a senator who scheduled a probe on the matter said.
“But he (Puno) hung in there until the President is compelled to announce his replacement. When a replacement has been named, that means you have been overstaying your post and you’re going to be kicked out by the seat of your pants,” Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago told reporters.
Puno, who is set to be succeeded by Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome, resigned on Tuesday although he told Malacañang of his decision as early as September 7.
The former government official said he vacated the position to give Secretary Manuel Roxas II leeway to reorganize the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), last headed by Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash in Masbate on August 18.
Following the accident, President Benigno Aquino III ordered Puno to secure documents in Robredo’s office but it was later confirmed that he also went to the DILG chief’s condominium unit on August 19.
Puno was denied entry yet it has raised suspicions that he visited the Robredo residence to obtain files that may implicate him in the alleged anomalous bidding of assault rifles.
In a television interview on Tuesday night, Puno denied any irregularity in the planned purchase of 59,904 units of calibre 9-millimeter pistols worth P1.2 billion.
He also quashed rumors that he went to Israel in May upon the invitation of R. Espineli Trading, which won the bidding but was later disqualified for failing to submit receipts of authentication and certification from the Insurance Commission.
It was just a family vacation, Puno said.
Robredo’s wife Leni has since begged off from participating on Friday’s hearing saying she and her family is still mourning the loss of her husband. Leni could have recounted what actually occurred in the condominium unit when Puno tried to enter it and reportedly after the maid told her of the request, she flatly rejected it, said Santiago.
“Plus, I would have wanted if she was willing to examine the documents that were gathered from her husband’s desk at her house in Quezon City or at least submit a summary to us in the committee of what those notes are. Anyway, as I’ve said, there will be no dearth of evidence because we can unearth it from other sources,” the senator said.
Because of this development, Santiago decided to issue an invitation to Robredo’s executive assistant Domnina Rances, who told the lawmaker in a letter that Leni will not take part in the hearing.
“Let us ask the executive assistant what she knows about the papers, not only inside the residence but also in the Office of the DILG Secretary,” she said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)